Franz Amann / Wolfgang Sawallisch

Brahms, Beethoven: Cellosonaten

(CD - Farao Classics #108036)

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The name Wolfgang Sawallisch is more closely recognized with his many esteemed duties as a conductor, especially of opera. This album, which contains works recorded in 1978 and 1986, finds Sawallisch returning to his pianistic and chamber music roots. Joined by cellist Franz Amann, Sawallisch demonstrates an innate sensitivity as an accompanist and equal partner in three of the most significant sonatas in the cello and piano repertoire: Brahms' Op. 99 Sonata and the sonatas Op. 69 and Op. 102/2 of Beethoven. In each case, the score puts equal demands on both performers and that fact is reflected beautifully in this duo's performance. Dynamics between the two shift fluidly to allow the melody to come to the forefront while maintaining the presence of accompanimental figures. Amann's playing is technically and musically superb, with meticulous intonation; clean, unsullied shifts; and a brilliant sense of line. His sound quality, while clear and easily audible, is a bit strained and nasal, particularly in the Brahms. The one significant blemish in the performance, however, comes at the beginning of Beethoven's Op. 69 Sonata. The opening motive, which serves as the basis for the entire movement, is clearly notated as two half notes followed by a dotted half note. Whether as a result of sloppy editing or uncharacteristic rhythmic laziness by Amann, this recorded clearly begins with a quarter note, half as long as its designated duration.

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